Digital technologies similar to artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are said to make many roles redundant resulting from automation. BeefLedger, a QUT research project with a give attention to blockchain and agtech (agricultural technology), tells a unique story. It seems the project generates jobs not normally related to rural and regional Australia.

BeefLedger is a two-year A$1.5 million project that got down to track and protect the authenticity of Australian beef within the rapidly growing Chinese market. It also shows, though, that blockchain and agtech can generate jobs within the creative industries in regional Australia, too.

The Australian beef industry is value greater than A$13 billion a 12 months. Around 75% of its output is exported. Yet demand from markets like China will soon exceed our supply capability.

And that opens a door to food fraud, a A$40 billion-a-year problem globally. Food fraud is reducing Australia’s brand value in China.

Led by QUT with funding from the Food Agility CRC and industry partners, BeefLedger is designed to guard Australia’s brand integrity by fighting food fraud. As well as verifying food provenance, it eases cross-border logistics and payments. It does this by creating an integrated blockchain-enabled beef provenance and smart contract platform.

So where do creative jobs come into it?

BeefLedger engages producer communities in rural Australia in recent ways. BeefLedger is working with the District Council of Grant and Mount Gambier High School to develop digital video stories in regards to the Limestone Coast and Mount Gambier region. By producing authentic local content that showcases food provenance to consumers, the project opens up regionally branded export opportunities within the Chinese market.

This creative content might be used across various platforms to strengthen the brand authenticity of Limestone Coast beef within the Chinese market. Farmers collaborate with students producing this content. In turn, BeefLedger adds value and profit to the area people.

The students visit farms and feedlots to study digital farming (agtech), the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics. BeefLedger engages students in agricultural science, data visualisation, creative storytelling, and food provenance narrative branding. They also study Chinese culture, including food and media consumption practices similar to WeChat.

Could a technology and innovation initiative similar to BeefLedger grow to be an example of learn how to arrest the brain drain of young people to metropolitan cities? Might such recent profession prospects be an incentive even for city slickers to contemplate regional Australia as their recent home?

Is blockchain really killing jobs?

There are about as many opinions as there are experts. Erin Winick

The desire to eliminate middlemen has been around for so long as there have been middlemen. Calling this desire has gained currency with the rise of blockchain and other distributed ledger technology.

The removal of intermediaries in a supply chain is claimed to enable , where producers have a more direct relationship with consumers. This supposedly results in more profit for producers and a greater deal for consumers.

The way forward for work in a blockchain world stays contested. Some have estimated that blockchain and smart contracts could make 30–60% of jobs redundant. Rebuttals of those dire predictions point to recent jobs and recent businesses being created.

Rather than pondering of disintermediation as killing jobs, we discover consumer culture and expectations are creating recent ones. Nowhere is that this more evident than within the creative industries.

Originally, cultural intermediaries were identified mostly as advertisers and marketers. Today, they’re a growing occupation filling a spread of roles: arts managers, curators and promoters, fashion, food and lifestyle gurus, journalists, DJs and online product reviewers. In China, the latter have grow to be social influencers in an industry value greater than A$12 billion.

But whenever you ask a cultural intermediary what their job is, they usually tend to say: “I’m a brand manager / curator / arts employee,” and never, “I’m a cultural intermediary.” Cultural intermediation is a theoretical construct to explain a wide selection of existing and emerging occupations.

New careers in cultural intermediation

The generalisation of entrepreneurialism in neoliberal societies into so many alternative occupations and areas of practice – the bootstrapping ethos of not looking for but creating one’s job – goes a substantial option to making everyone an intermediary whether or not they wish to be or not. Peter Conlin

We are seeing a 3rd wave of socially engaged cultural intermediaries within the creative city. This includes facilitators, enablers, community employees, activists and social entrepreneurs. It often includes those working in not-for-profit and non-government organisations.

The cultural intermediation at play within the BeefLedger project entails brokerage, lateral pondering, conceptual reordering and dot-joining people and community assets. This is the craft so many professionals within the creative industries practise every single day simply to get a gig: applied creativity.

Intermediation and disintermediation can’t be reduced to a straightforward binary of excellent or bad. Nor should our understanding of them be confined to sales, marketing or e-commerce. Our work on the BeefLedger project applies creativity across the persistent silos of the 3Cs – Community, Culture and Commerce – towards mutually useful results.

In fact, digital technology similar to blockchain may soon increase demand for skilled cultural intermediaries. They bring a capability to articulate business goals and objectives in creative and community terms. This then enables a more holistic integration of business, social and regional agendas.

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